The Psychological Impact of Modern Office Spaces

Feb 10 , 2016
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Employees Desire Workplaces Offering Flexibility, Collaboration

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While motivating employees is a basic role of management, it can often seem that factors influencing productivity are sometimes out of a manager’s control.

New incentives, shifting management styles, setting goals, and so on; while there are a wide range of strategies to boost morale, these don’t always address the root of employee dissatisfaction. Sometimes, an office’s problem can be the office itself.

Office design has evolved over the past century to meet the changing cultural and technological landscape to better serve workers’ needs.

As issues such as lighting and ventilation become less relevant with the conveniences of modern design, today's business leaders are more interested in understanding their teams in order to offer spaces that best appeal to their psychological needs, rather than simply focusing on economical solutions.

In truth, a work environment that makes employees happy is an economical design.

Unmotivated employees are estimated to cost the U.S. economy up to $550 billion annually due to costs associated with more sick days, higher turnover rates and reduced performance.

According to environmental psychology, the study of how environment can impact human cognition and behavior, an office can play a big role in contributing to that number.

Although cubicles may work for some, others may find them to be limiting in collaboration. Open office plans might suit team players, but risk damaging others’ attention spans and job satisfaction.

To meet the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce, workplaces must offer flexible, collaborative spaces. Today, employees increasingly expect work environments that value their creativity, autonomy to work where and how they want, and work-life balance.

Learn more about the history of office design, along with several modern examples from the offices of innovative tech companies, in the infographic below created by USC Dornsife’s Applied Psychology Program.

 

About the Author

Tim Wayne